As a piano teacher, I often wonder why piano students quit. Of course, most will stop taking lessons eventually in their life, so this blog will focus on students who quit after 3 years or less. While every situation is unique, there are some patterns on why students stop playing piano. In a podcast, Andrea from Teach Piano Today discusses with Karen King about King’s research in why piano students quit.
Karen King shares some staggering statistics from her research in this podcast episode. Most shocking to me, was that about 80% of piano students quit after 3 years. A surprising finding was that parents who have music training that are heavily involved in practice sessions have a negative effect on the students’ motivation. A not so surprising finding, is that long-term students generally practiced more (about 2.5 hours a week), and have moved past the initial beginner stages.
King suggests that motivation for piano lesson thrives under three conditions: competency, autonomy, and relatedness. Competency refers to the student’s feelings about their own playing; if they feel that the piano is something that they are good at, they are more likely to be motivated to continue. Autonomy refers to the student’s feelings about the creative control they have over the music they play. If they feel that they have more control over their piano projects, then they are more likely to continue being interested in the piano. Relatedness refers to the student’s feelings about how the piano relates to other parts of their life. Since piano lessons can sometimes be a lonely endeavor, it is important for piano students to feel that the music they are learning is not confined to just the lessons. A suggestion from King, is to have parents play recordings of a similar genre to what the student is learning.
These findings are invaluable to all piano teachers, piano students, and piano parents. Together, with research, we can continue passing on the art of music education.